Lakers don't want to hear about losing

Lakers don't want to hear about losing
Nick Young is averaging 14.9 points with 2.3 rebounds per game over 16 games this season for the Lakers. (Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

The Lakers were in a great mood, winners of one in a row, when they were asked about Magic Johnson's comments after beating the Sacramento Kings.

Even Nick Young stopped smiling when he heard Johnson said the Lakers should lose every game to secure a high draft pick.

"It's too early to do that right now. I'm going to have to tell Magic to stay at Dodger Stadium for a while," Young said. "He's going to bring that smile around here. I'll do all the smiling right now.

"I'm [probably] telling Magic, 'You've got to stick with us.' Magic always has some bold comments. I remember last year he said some crazy things. I'd just tell him, 'Chill out for a minute' or I'd have to knock him out once or twice."


Young was smiling by the end of his comments, but other Lakers players weren't overly amused.

Robert Sacre exclaimed in the locker room "Less lottery balls!" and added that "no one wants to hear" talk about tanking.

Kobe Bryant took the more pragmatic approach, trying to see Johnson's view from above. Johnson is a former minority owner of the Lakers, a role he currently holds with the Dodgers.

"I think the fans are hopefully... well, some of them are probably smart enough to understand his perspective as an owner. I certainly am," Bryant said. "Magic's one of the most competitive players of all time. He doesn't want to lose. From an owner's perspective, his opinion is to get top picks and to be able to use those as leverage to trade and get a competitive team and so on."

Johnson is an unpaid vice president of the Lakers. He sold his share of the team in 2010 to billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong.

The Lakers (6-16) keep their first-round draft pick only if it is a top-five selection after the lottery. Otherwise it goes to Phoenix as part of the Steve Nash trade.

New Bryant position?

It's not comparable to Johnson starting an NBA Finals game at center, but the 36-year-old Bryant might eventually get the nod at point guard.

"I've thought about starting him at the point and I even talked to him about it," Lakers Coach Byron Scott said Wednesday. "I said, 'I'm thinking about it, but I'm not there yet.' "

Bryant finished Tuesday's game against Sacramento at point guard and was a solid distributor. In the final five minutes, he set up Wesley Johnson for a three-pointer and fired a pass to Jordan Hill for a go-ahead layup. He also dunked off a pass from Hill and made all four of his free throws down the stretch in the Lakers' 98-95 victory.

Bryant will spend some time at point guard in at least two of the next three games, Scott said.

"You will see it again. I thought it was very effective," Scott added. "I feel real good when the ball is in his hands. No. 1, he can get his own shot, obviously. No. 2, he can create shots for his teammates."

Neither Ronnie Price nor Jeremy Lin were consistent on offense in recent games. Price is averaging 2.5 points and 4.5 assists since taking Lin's spot in the starting lineup two games ago. Lin is averaging three points and four assists since being demoted.

First non-sellout

Another issue arose after the Lakers' victory Tuesday.

It was the Lakers' first non-sellout this season, the 18,267 fans falling short of 18,997 capacity for home games.

The Lakers had nine non-sellouts at Staples Center in 2013-14, symbolic of a lost season with a 27-55 mark and franchise records for overall losses and at home (27).

The Lakers are 3-9 at home this season.

Twitter: @Mike_Bresnahan